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LAHORE: All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez will become the second Pakistani player and sixth overall to feature in 100 T20Is when he takes the field against South Africa in first of the four men’s Twenty 20 Internationals at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday (today).

Hafeez (40) is one shy of reaching the three-figure mark and all set to join the exclusive club of Shoaib Malik (116), Rohit Sharma (111), Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan and Ross Taylor (102) who have appeared in 100 or more T20Is since the inception of the shortest format of the game in February 2005.

Hafeez featured in Pakistan’s first-ever T20I in August 2006 in Bristol and scored 46 in Pakistan’s five wickets victory over England. Interestingly, Hafeez’s 50th appearance was also at the Wanderers Stadium against South Africa in November 2013 when he as captain took two for 25 and scored 13 not out as the hosts beat Pakistan by four runs in a rain-shortened match.

Hafeez has represented Pakistan in five of the six ICC T20 World Cups since 2007, but missed the 2009 campaign in England, which Pakistan won under Younis Khan at Lord’s. While Hafeez will be looking for double celebrations on Saturday, Pakistan will be targeting to carry the momentum of the ODI series and make a winning start in the four-match series.

In the ICC T20I Player Rankings, Pakistan captain Babar Azam is the highest-ranked player on either side. The champion batsman is ranked third behind Dawid Malan (England) and Aaron Finch (Australia) but has a chance to narrow the gap with Australia opener whom he trails by 29 points.

Babar Azam will be captaining Pakistan in his sixth series since taking over as T20I captain from Sarfaraz Ahmed in October 2019. His side lost 2-0 to Australia, beat Bangladesh 2-0, drew 1-1 with England, won 3-0 with Zimbabwe, and won 2-1 against South Africa.

On a head to head, South Africa lead Pakistan by 9-8, including 4-3 on their turf. Barring a 10-wicket victory in the first-ever T20I between the two sides at the Wanderers in February 2007, South Africa’s other three wins have been narrow ones – four runs at Wanderers in 2013, six runs at Newlands in 2019 and seven runs at Wanderers in 2019. In contrast, Pakistan’s three wins in South Africa have been by 95 runs at Centurion in 2013, six runs at Newlands in 2013 and 27 runs at Centurion in 2019.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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